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Awareness, Anxiety And The Coronavirus: How To Avoid Alarmism Amid The Outbreak




 People wait in line to purchase guns and ammunition at Peninsula Guns and Tactical on March 16, 2020 in San Bruno, California.
People wait in line to purchase guns and ammunition at Peninsula Guns and Tactical on March 16, 2020 in San Bruno, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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It’s not just you, the information really is changing by the minute as the world monitors the evolution of the coronavirus outbreak.

We’re feeling it in the KPCC newsroom, too. Sometimes it feels like we haven’t had time to process the previous headline before a new one comes out that completely nullifies it. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of information and it can be hard to differentiate between what’s fact and what’s not, and the sheer volume of information is enough to rattle even those with the hardiest constitutions. That’s part of the reason why we’ve been bringing you daily Q&A segments on AirTalk with epidemiologists, public health officials and experts and others to answer your question and, hopefully, help quell some of the anxiety that many are feeling right now.

Today on AirTalk, we’ll examine the role and effect of fear and anxiety on society during virus outbreaks like the one we’re experiencing right now and try to put this epidemic in context historically with other disease outbreaks that have created similar levels of panic in society.

For comprehensive coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, including our no-panic, fact-checked guide to navigating the virus in Southern California, click here.

Guest:

Philip G. Alcabes, professor of public health and director of the Public Health Program at Hunter College in New York City, a constituent college of the City University of New York (CUNY); he is the author of “Dread: How Fear and Fantasy have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to the Avian Flu” (Public Affairs Books, 2009)